I didn’t know what the word “misogynist” meant until my daughter started teaching high school English. If I ran across it when reading, I probably assumed a meaning based on where it was in the sentence. I’m not even sure I ran across it, though. While GE was grading papers, I proofread a vocabulary test and saw the word and definition. (Why would you teach a word like that? It’s in a short story. What does the character do? Is it like Psycho? He’s a Norman Bates kind of guy, right?)
Don’t get me wrong. I started working in construction when women were just emerging from the home as wage-earners. But “hatred of women?” That seemed a bit extreme. I thought men were just misguided and would be “won over” when they saw that women can do anything that men can do. Why would I have been such a misguided nutty idealist? Mostly because I was raised to believe that women can do anything by parents who believed that we could. Silly me.
GE had me read something similar to this excerpt from an article by sociologist Michael Flood who defines misogyny as the hatred of women and notes:
Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves. Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male-dominated societies for thousands of years and continues to place women in subordinate positions…
The idea that misogyny can be practised by other women was foreign to me. My biggest supporters are my sisters; I know they’ve got my back. In my work life, the women I’ve worked with have been supportive friends. That’s unanimous after 30 years in a non-traditional career.
But the word was put into practice when the Susan G. Komen Foundation cut $650,000 in funds from Planned Parenthood because of a recently adopted policy that prohibits it from funding any group that is under formal investigation by a government body. Planned Parenthood is being investigated by Rep. Cliff Stearns, an anti-abortion Florida Republican, who says he is trying to learn if the group spent public money to provide abortions. Of the 2,000 organizations who receive grants from Komen, only Planned Parenthood has had the “no-investigations” rule applied. Penn State, also under federal investigation after the sexual assault scandal, receives more than $7 million for research and has suffered no reduction of grant funds.
Fingers were pointed at Karen Handel, a former secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate from Georgia, who was recently appointed senior VP at Koman. Handel is anti-abortion. She has been quoted as saying that she is “pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”
Side note and personal rant. I refuse to call an anti-abortionist “pro-life” unless they are vegetarian pacifist card carrying members of NCADP. That would be someone who is pro-life. If you are pro-life, that ought to mean ALL life. Anyone else is anti-abortion.
Nancy Brinker, Komen founder, said that she was appalled at the “scurrilous accusations being hurled at this organization,” but Handel’s comments are the smoking gun that put her misogynistic fingerprints all over the decision.
I say that Handel’s a misogynist because the funds that Komen provides pay for mammograms for low income women at 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates. In a letter to donors in 2011, the foundation stated that, over the previous 5 years, Komen grants had paid for breast cancer and breast health education for nearly 160,000 women; clinical breast exams for more than 139,000 women; 4,866 mammograms; and, had detected 177 breast cancers.
To me, removing funding from Komen seems pretty hateful to women. Dang misogynists!
About mid-morning, the Internet banners touted Komen’s decision to re-fund Planned Parenthood grants. Brinker stated that, “(Komen) will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood responded with the statement: “Planned Parenthood has been a trusted partner with the Komen Foundation in early cancer detection and prevention services.
“In particular, Planned Parenthood helps the Komen Foundation reach vulnerable populations — low-income women, African-American women, and Latinas — especially in rural areas and underserved communities where Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of health care. With Komen Foundation grants, over the past five years, Planned Parenthood health centers provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals. With the outpouring of support over the past week, even more women in need will receive lifesaving breast cancer care.”
The bottom line is that once again, politicians and special interest groups tried to play politics with women’s health. And, do you notice that Komen doesn’t say anything about granting funds to Planned Parenthood in the future? Just that they will not jerk (and I don’t use that word loosely) money from them at this time and that Planned Parenthood can apply for future grants.
For me, I don’t want Komen to regress into the paternalistic misogynism that has characterized state and federal government officials over these past few years. I want to be able to send my donations to both Planned Parenthood AND Komen with the knowledge that the money is being spent to help women and not to garner support from some political agenda that I cannot support.